Today the Federal Government released the findings of the Tune Review into the NDIS. First the good news – the recommendations are all things we have have been banging on about for ages. But the bad news – no government response yet.
The review carried out by Mr David Tune late last year looked at what changes to the legislation were needed to establish timeframes for key NDIS processes such as access and planning. It also looked at what else needed to be done to get the NDIS working better for participants and their families. (You can read more about the review here or read our submission here).
And shock horror the review found that while there was still strong support for the scheme amongst people with disability and their families and the broader community, there was also disappointment, frustration and anger about how the scheme was operating on the ground.
Participants said the scheme was too complex, too confusing and difficult to navigate. They said they were frustrated by lengthy delays and inconsistency in decisions and outcomes.
If we had a sarcasm font we would insert it here.
So what else did the review find?
The review found that participants:
- feel the NDIS is too complex and too difficult to navigate
- wait too long for support
- have found the transition to the NDIS confusing and frustrating
- do not understand how the NDIA makes decisions about eligibility or the supports provided in their plan
- want to have more information and support to understand the NDIS, navigate the system and get their plan into action
- feel they are not recognised as the experts in their disability
- have difficulty finding information and products in accessible formats or in formats that suit them
- feel NDIA staff do not understand disability or appreciate the challenges they face
So what did the review recommend?
Mr Tune made 29 recommendations (you can find the full list in the full report).
But in short they included:
- Introduce a Participant Service Guarantee that sets out timeframes the NDIA must meet including:
- how long processes will take to complete
- more transparency about how the NDIA makes decisions
- better on the ground delivery from NDIA staff and Local Area Coordinators (LAC) and Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) partners.
- Improving people’s experience with the NDIS by:
- allowing more flexibility in using funding
- allowing plans to be amended without a full review
- allowing participants to see a draft of their plan before it is approved
- better support for children and families
- providing more information about what ‘reasonable and necessary’ means
- clarifying access for people with psychosocial disability
- clarifying who is eligible for support coordination – and who can provide it
- providing better connections to supports where services are thin on the ground
- better IT so people can track where their requests are up to.
- The NDIA and governments working together to:
- clarify how the NDIS works with other service systems
- help people understand and navigate the scheme
- more support and resources that help participants get their plans into action and make the most of their funding.
While the recommendations all seem pretty sensible and practical, we do note that there are a bunch of things that don’t appear.
Things like more staff – and more importantly better training for staff.
This is important because if the recommendation for NDIA staff to carry out planning on their own goes ahead it follows that the NDIA will need more peeps to get the job done.
Some of the timeframes recommended also seem a little long. For example if you are stuck in hospital, 70 days is a really long time to wait for a plan. This highlights what we have been saying for ages – the NDIS needs a more reliable and consistent triage system so people who need help more quickly get it.
Recommendations around the IT system also seem a little thin. The report just recommends that people should be able to track online where they are up to in the NDIS queue. But what we hear all the time is that people want much more than that – they want the portal to be easier and simpler to use so they can keep track of what is happening to their funding.
Some of the recommendations were also kept very general – like “make things clearer”. But no detail on how.
For example – to make things more transparent, the NDIA could release guidelines they give to planners, or the details of the Typical Support Packages that are used to determine funding or details of the cases settled at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (anonymously of course). But all that kind of detail is missing.
That means we will have to be vigilant to make sure things are “made clear” in a way that works for us – and really DOES make things simpler, easier and clearer.
Devil is always in the detail.
And finally recommendation 3 is really critical – that the government “provide additional funding to support people with disability to navigate the NDIS” (page 45). Something we have been banging on for years now.
But again there isn’t any detail about who or what that might look like. And we know that people with disability and their families most value information and support provided by trusted independent organisations, including user-led and advocacy organisations. But the word advocacy is conspicuously absent from the recommendations (although it does appear in the body of the report).
Again – devil in the detail.
So what’s next?
Frustratingly – but perhaps not surprisingly – the Government did not release its response to the report. A media release by the Minister said:
“The Government will respond in the coming weeks with more details about what specific improvements we will be making and how we will set the Participant Service Guarantee into law by 1 July 2020.”
Just what we all need – more waiting.
This is absolutely critical because while the report’s recommendations all seem pretty practical and sensible, it will mean nothing if the Government and the NDIA don’t act on them. And fast.
So we are calling on the government to release both their plan and a timetable for change. Tell us what they are doing and when.
And most importantly – to hurry up and get their skates on. There is nothing new in this report, the findings are the same as every other review and the recommendations are frustratingly the same as every other review.
Which means there is absolutely no excuse not to get going immediately.
Want more information?
There is a great plain English summary which is really easy to read. Good on DSS for pushing this one through – doesn’t happen often enough.
No Easy Read yet – apparently it is coming.
You can read some of the media coverage from:
- National Disability Insurance Scheme review reveals many have ‘frustrations’ with the bureaucracy – ABC News
- Morrison government set to announce NDIS overhaul – The Age
- NDIS review finds wait times, red tape at heart of ‘frustration’ – SBS News
And some of our coverage:
- Media release: Same old tune – now for some action: Disability group calls for action on NDIS review – Every Australian Counts
- Thank you for leaving a message for the NDIS Tune Review – Every Australian Counts
- Every Australian Counts Tune Review submission summary – October 2019
- Minister Announces review of NDIS Act – Every Australian Counts